Format of the Formulary and Traffic Light Classification

The Joint Formulary is arranged in BNF chapter order. The layout of medicines within each chapter may differ from that in the BNF. This is because it is representative of the local joint decisions made for the Milton Keynes population. There are a list of drugs recommended in each section and each drug is categorised to facilitate prescribing choice.

The prescriber should always ensure they have the expertise to prescribe an agent before making the selection. In its guidelines on responsibility for prescribing between hospitals and general practitioners, the Department of Health has advised that legal responsibility for prescribing lies with the doctor who signs the prescription.


Green drugs - These medicines are suitable for routine use within their licensed indication.

Amber 1 drugs - These medicines are suitable for prescribing in primary care after specialist recommendation.

Amber 2 drugs - These medicines are suitable for prescribing in line with local guidance (e.g. might be second line after treatment failure of something else) 

Amber 3 drugs - These medicines are suitable for prescribing within their licensed indication in primary care after specialist initiation and stabilisation

Amber Shared Care drugs - These medicines are initiated by a specialist and prescribed by primary care only under a shared care protocol, once patient has been stabilised

Red drugs - These medicines are suitable for prescribing by the hospital or specialists only (to allow for move of secondary care work into the community and being undertaken by GP with special interest etc.)

Double Red drugs - These medicines have been evaluated and rejected by MKPAG and are NOT approved for use within MK. They are not recommended for use because of lack of clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness or safety.



Further information and guidelines may be provided to help prescribers in notes following the drug entry or as appendices.

Key information from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines have also been included.

In addition, the following symbols are also used throughout the formulary to assist prescribers:

  • CD Controlled Drug 
  • £  Cost effective preparations within a class of drugs
  • N Preparations than can be prescribed by Community Practitioner Nurses who have completed the necessary training.
  • U  Unlicensed preparation or dose.
  • ACBS  Advisory Committee on Borderline Substances.
  • SLS Selective List Scheme, for drugs restricted to prescribing under the NHS in certain conditions. The prescriptions for these items need to be endorsed by the prescriber with ‘SLS'.

Last updated by: Dupe Fagbenro on 18-04-2018 12:37